I received this question from Blythe on a previous post and thought I would take a minute to answer her! Blythe said,
“I do a lot of fresh cooking, but because of the nature of fresh cooking, my food storage suffers. How do you do nutritious meals while keeping a solid food storage?”
First of all, before I answer your question I just want to briefly mention the importance of food storage to those who may not have considered it much before. No one would question the common sense of saving money for a rainy day, neither should we question the wisdom of storing extra food for the same reason. Natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy are a perfect example of why storing extra food for your family could be helpful! Also, economic conditions (like the one we currently find ourselves in) with the inflation of food prices, make storing food more and more urgent. Also, you never know when you or your spouse might lose a job, or when your income might drop. One thing is for sure though, if you are well-prepared for difficult times – the last thing you will have to worry about, is being able to feed your family. And in prosperous times? You’ll have the additional benefit of peace that preparation brings. Now on to the question!
I also enjoy cooking with fresh food. I realize that canned food is less nutritious than fresh, and freezing can also slightly decrease the nutritional content of food. However – I personally still use those two methods of food storage around my house for some of my short term food storage. I always keep canned fruits and veggies around. I use my canned veggies wherever I see an opportunity to add additional veggies to a meal, or canned fruit as a side if I feel the meal needs something more. I especially use my canned food on tighter weeks to make it through on budget.
I would recommend that the canned food you do use on occasion, you buy in bulk when on sale. I also recommend you make double batches of meals that freeze well, and freeze them. So much more healthy than freezer food from the store! I always have several weeks of previously freshly-prepared meals stored in my freezer. (Especially now, as I’m prepping to have this baby and am sure I won’t want to cook for while!)
But, let me give you a few ideas to boost your short and long term food storage, if you are a fresh food lover.
Go big on your short term storage:
- Buy your rice, flour, hard wheat, beans, and sugar in 25lb. bags from Costco. Also, stock up on your favorite pasta when it is on sale. Store all of this food in buckets with Gamma lids – the pasta too! This will keep them from becoming bug infested. You can buy 5-gallon buckets fairly cheaply at your local Home Depot. If you live in Utah, Macey’s grocery store always has awesome deals on food storage buckets.
- For yeast, I always buy the 2lb. bag of Red Star Active Dry Yeast and store it in my freezer so the yeast keeps longer. This has been very effective for me. I have kept yeast for about a year without noticing it losing its proofing power this way.
- I also buy butter from Costco and freeze it. Buttermilk freezes well. Regular milk - does NOT. Baking soda and baking powder can also keep longer by being frozen – but make sure they are stored in airtight containers and that they don’t get damp! Freeze fresh strawberries or other berries if you won’t be able to eat them before they go bad.
For fruits and veggies:
- My number one recommendation for keeping long term food storage well-supplemented with fruits and veggies that will have the same nutritional content as fresh, is to buy freeze-dried fruits and vegetables. I personally love and have THRIVE fruits and vegetables in my stash. Most of them last for 25 years if stored properly. The cans are light since they have no water content. The food re-hydrates very well and tastes awesome. I recommend you host a home party with a consultant to try it for yourself and to get some sweet discounts on your order.
- Shorter term storage? Grow a garden in your backyard. If you can, grow your own fruit trees! Can what you won’t eat, to be able to enjoy your fresh fruits and veggies throughout the year.
- These aren’t fruits and veggies, but since I mentioned gardening – make sure to grow your own fresh herbs!
- Can and store a large variety of seeds as part of your longer term emergency food storage.
For Bread and Grain Items:
- Buy a quality wheat grinder. And then buy canned rice, oats, and wheat in bulk through the LDS cannery near you. All of these keep for 30+ years if they are canned and stored properly (at or below 75*F). If you have a wheat grinder, you can use it to grind up rice, oatmeal, or other grains for cereal for baby food storage. Also, the nutritional value and taste of freshly ground wheat in homemade bread?! Incredible.
- If you want super fresh yeast, get and keep a living yeast starter going. If you feed and care for your starter, you can have fresh yeast indefinitely. From what I have read this is healthier than using dry active yeasts. I thought I would tackle keeping a starter alive for our family this year, but it looks like that won’t be happening in 2012. Eventually we’ll get there – one goal at a time right?
- The best way to keep fresh eggs?! Keep chickens! You can’t beat the fresh taste or nutrition of free range chickens’ eggs (or chicken for that matter!) Someday I will have my own land and my own happy chickens! Until then, I will just dream and live vicariously through the blogs of homesteaders.
- To help you with shorter term storage, I totally recommend buying your meat in bulk through Zaycon foods. The quality, taste, and price cannot be beat. No hormones or extra junk. They never freeze their meat either. Once you purchase the meat from them, you can freeze it yourself in high quality freezer bags and fill up your chest freezer. (I totally recommend getting a chest freezer if you don’t already have one.) We bought one case of chicken from Zaycon early this Summer, and we are still working on it. It is great. (P.S. Those links to Zaycon are my personal referral links. Feel free to use them if you like.) :)
- THRIVE also sells some very delicious freeze-dried meat that lasts for many many years.
- And of course, you can always keep and slaughter your own animals if you have the land and interest in doing that! Or you can go hunting in the wild. For now, I’m content just getting my meat from Zaycon. Haha. ;)
P.S. Don’t forget:
- Store water! Water is an essential emergency food storage component. You can easily work on building your water supply by simply filling up and storing empty juice, soda, and water bottles. You can also purchase larger jugs or drums for storing water as well.
All you fresh food lovers out there – how do you build up your food storage in a way that is compatible with your desire for fresh food?